• Key support services

    A picture of health

    Seeking support for both mental and physical health issues can be uniquely difficult for doctors. Perceptions of lack of confidentiality, embarrassment, and fears about the implications for career progression have all been identified as key barriers.

    Despite these concerns the weight of evidence shows that healthy, well balanced doctors practice more effectively [1], are more likely to impart a healthy lifestyle to their patients [2], are more empathetic [1], and are less likely to make mistakes [1].

    Knowing when to seek help and where to find help when you need it is important professional responsibility. Below are a range of support options available to doctors across Australia.

    Overcoming the barriers to accessing support

    The barriers outlined above often lead doctors down a path of self-treatment and self-medication which is increasingly regarded as not only damaging but also unethical.

    Avant Senior Medical Advisor Professor Greg Whelan advises that seeking objective external help is essential to pick up on subtle cues, particularly when it comes to mental health issues.

    "It is preferable to seek support externally than within your own institution, and from objective practitioners who are used to treating other doctors," he says.

    "We would recommend doctors visit an independent doctors' health program. These are available in each State and are independent of the Medical Board. They offer pretty comprehensive services and are tailored to doctors' specific needs."

    Avant Personal Support Program

    Avant's Personal Support Program (PSP) provides a range of support options to Avant members who are suffering health issues.  A central plank is six sessions of confidential, external counselling provided by Benestar, a leading global provider of corporate psychology services.

    The counselling service offers objective psychological support and the provision of coping skills for a range of work-related issues such as work stress, issues with patients, personal issues relating to anxiety or depression, and legal issues around medico-legal complaints. Options available include face to face counselling, phone support or video counselling.
    Contact: 1300 360 364

    Avant Medico-legal Advisory Service

    Expert medico-legal advisors provide medico-legal advice and support to Avant members. Available 24 hours a day 7 days a week in emergencies, the service offers legal support throughout a claims process, practical advice to minimise the chance of a complaint or claim, and services to identify your exposure and prevent a recurrence.
    Contact: 1800 128 268

    Avant Medico-legal Advisory Service

    Doctors' Health Advisory Services

    Doctors' Health Advisory Services provide personal advice to medical practitioners and students facing difficulties, personal crisis and stress.

    Doctors' Health Advisory Service
    24 hour phone assistance
    Helpline and office: 02 9437 6552 

    Doctors' Health Advisory Service
    24 hour phone assistance
    Helpline and office: 02 9437 6552

    Northern Territory
    Doctors' Health SA
    24 hour phone assistance and clinical services
    Helpline: 08 8366 0250

    Doctors' Health Program
    24 hour phone assistance
    Helpline: 07 3833 4352

    South Australia
    Doctors' Health SA
    24 hour phone assistance and clinical services
    Helpline: 08 8366 0250

    Victorian Doctors' Health Program
    Helpline: 03 9280 8712

    Peer Support Service
    Phone advice service 8am - 10pm
    Phone: 1300 853 338

    Victorian Doctors' Health Program
    Clinical services with some phone support
    Phone: 03 9280 8712

    Western Australia
    Doctors' Health Advisory Service
    24 hour phone assistance
    Helpline: 08 9321 3098

    Doctors with Disabilities Australia

    Doctors with Disabilities – Australia (DWDA) provides advocacy and peer support on matters associated with medical study and doctors practising with a disability.

    Rural Support Services

    Wellbeing support options for rural doctors:

    Bush Support Line:
    1800 805 391, 24 hours per day: crana.org.au/support/about-bush-support-services

    Support for Rural Specialists in Australia:
    02 9256 5419

    Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine:
    1800 223 226

    Rural Doctors' Workforce Agency SA's Dr DOC program:
    A range of support services targeted at maintaining the wellbeing of rural doctors, including practice support, financial support, and access to a wide range of specialist networks, emergency retrieval teams and locum services:
    08 8234 8277 or 0417 082 411

    NSW Rural Doctors' Network:
    Support and outreach services for NSW's rural health workforce:
    02 4924 8000

    NSW Rural Medical Family Network:
    Support and assistance to rural medical families in NSW, and assistance to medical students interested in experiencing rural general practice.
    02 4924 8000

    Rural Doctors' Association of Australia:
    02 6239 7730

    National Rural Health Student's Network:
    02 8337 8100

    Other supports

    1300 224 636

    Medical Benevolent Associations provide counselling, support and some financial assistance to doctors and their families during times of need.

    Medical Benevolent Association – VIC - 03 9496 4309

    Medical Benevolent Association - NSW - 02 9987 0504

    Medical Benevolent Association - SA - 08 8267 4355

    Medical Benevolent Association - QLD - 07-3872 2222

    Medical Colleges
    Your medical college could be a good place to get help and support. Many of the professional colleges have support systems and resources available to offer support for the specialist college members. Contact your college for details.